One of Africa’s biggest science funds, Partnership for skills in Applied Sciences, Engineering and Technology (PASET) has rolled out US$3.3M in grant for innovations in agriculture, targeted at universities and research institutions in West Africa.
Under the accelerating inclusive green growth through agri-based digital innovation in West Africa (AGriDI initiative), the Nairobi-based PASET will fund proposals in 15 West African countries that largely constitute the Economic Community of West African States. Innovators from Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, the Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo are eligible.
The target groups include; universities, research institutes, legally registered small and medium enterprises, farmer cooperatives, private sector corporations, technology hubs, innovation labs, start-ups, community-based organisations, civil society organisations, government ministries, departments and agencies. Scientists and innovators have been tasked to come up with ground-breaking ideas that can help grow the agricultural productivity in the region.
Applicants have been given until received until 30 June, while winners are likely to be announced in the last quarter of 2021. At least 12 proposals will be funded for up to a minimum of US$184k. While the grants are focused on the West Africa region, individual scientists, researchers and innovators from other parts of Africa can take part as collaborators. However, they can only do this by bringing in a critical skill or expertise.
“Agriculture in Africa is transforming fast, away from subsistence to commercial farming. Digital innovation is accelerating this transformation, and is becoming an important factor in farm productivity, and access to markets,” Ecuru, Head of the AGriDI project.
The AGriDI initiative is funded through the ACP Innovation Fund of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States, and is financed by the European Union. It is being implemented by the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology, in partnership with Benin’s University of Abomey-Calavi, the Agropolis Foundation and Kenya’s Gearbox Pan African Network. The insect centre also hosts the PASET-RSIF Regional Coordination Unit.
“The innovations also provide an opportunity for improving the efficiency and profitability of agricultural production in Africa. These grants will provide a means to facilitate the development and utilisation of digital technologies, such as through the use of artificial intelligence and robotics, to enhance production, advisory services, marketing and policy of food systems in West Africa,” added Dr Moses Osiru, the head of PASET.